With the internet full of motivational websites promoting the exhilarating idea of solo travel, why you should do it at least once, and a list of places you can go alone – there is no doubt that the concept is well incepted in our minds. I have done it and, therefore, I am myself a strong believer of it as mine turned out to be the best experience of my life. But while I was at it, I realized that no matter how much adrenaline rush solo travel brings along – it also involves great responsibility towards yourself. The world is full of great surprises and taking risks is healthy, but there are also unfortunate events. So, the basis of any solo travel should start with ‘safety first.’
While I was traveling solo in 2013 for a month, after almost two months of convincing my family and friends to let me do it – I decided to build myself a circle of guidelines and was sitting right in the center of it at all times. The fellow travelers I met throughout my journey seemed to be following the same and it only added to my confidence that I was doing it right. Sharing these basic rules that you need to follow for your solo travel, I wish you all the best for your experience, and hope that you meet the best people around the world, you would have never ever met otherwise…
CHOOSE YOUR DESTINATION WISELY.
First and foremost, is to choose a destination. However daring you are, lets accept it that there are some places in the world that are really pretty, but record a really high crime rate as well. Rule them out. Look for places that known for its tourism and are reviewed as safe by other visitors. Consider places that are religious, such as the ones which follow Buddhism for example, or simply places which are known for historical travel, mix of culture and races, or have a thriving student population. The key is to find a place which accepts the idea of solo travel as much as you do, and would not cause you any harm for being alone.
FIND A PURPOSE.
Solo Travel without a purpose can almost make you feel terribly lost in the middle of your journey. So find one. Most people travel alone to experience the world, do something daring like a trek, volunteer for the good of human kind or to enjoy a global event. A purpose is your basic motivation to why you are going, and it is only for yourself. It can be as ordinary as ‘I want to find myself’ or as tragic as ‘running away for a while from everything’. Whatever your reason is, you do not owe an explanation to anyone, and yet having one deep in your heart is important.
PLAN THE LOGISTICS.
Getting on a train and not knowing how to reach your destination is totally cinematic. Real life doesn’t work like that. That being said, you should not know all the roads possible, but the few initial logistics of your trip should be planned. Lets say, you are taking a flight, bus or train? How far is the place? Do you need a Visa for it? Where can you possibly stay and do you have to book it prior to your arrival? How much will the trip cost and what will be your mode of transport? Trust me, knowing the answers to these questions will only boost your confidence.
FIND THAT TRUE INSIDER.
Its completely fine if you don’t want people to know what you are doing, when, and where. You want to go missing and be out of the network for a while is totally granted too. But its only wise to find that one person who can be the ‘one and only’ insider to your whereabouts at all times. In most cases it will be your best friend. The thing about besties is that they let you loose, and still never give up on you. This insider will track you down if you are lost, missing, hurt or end up in a situation. They will call up every single family member of yours with a rescue alarm, and send a search party for you. Point is – they will get you back safe from wherever you are in the world, and will have your back in your adventure.
ALWAYS BE IN A CROWDED AREA.
Even though this rule is unisex, it applies to all fellow female solo travelers as mandatory. Yes we are equal, but the world will take its own time to get there. No offence. Try and be in crowded areas at all hours of the day. If your town sleeps early, you will have to end your day early too, and there is no excuse to be rebellious at odd hours in an unknown area. Find out the local timings of your destination and visit places that are filled with people. Refrain from walking alone or being left stranded on strange roads.
SET DEADLINES AND DISCIPLINE.
This is just to stress on the earlier point –
If your town sleeps early, you will have to end your day early too, and there is no excuse to be rebellious at odd hours in an unknown area. Make deadlines for yourself and follow them religiously.
This is the only way you will keep yourself out of trouble.
KNOW A LOCAL.
Its a pleasant feeling to know a local in your area of travel. You might be knowing them before hand, or make friends with them once you reach, however its always good to have somebody trustworthy in your phone book, who also knows the place well. They can guide you through your trip on where to go and how to go, and can also refer trust worthy contacts such as your next tour guide, driver, landlord or shopkeeper. So once you plan your trip, connect with the people you possibly know there, or with the people who would know someone there and can connect back. No one wants baggage, but they will surely lend you friendly advice anytime.
TRUST YOUR GUT.
Well, this is the time when your instincts will be strongest, and you will realize the true potential of trusting your gut. Listen to yourself, as you will be the only and the best judge of your situation in a solo travel experience. If your gut says you can do it – do it. But, if it says you are in danger or you cannot do it, then do not do it. You will get a lot of chances in your life to make mistakes and not listen to yourself, but this experience is not the place for it.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT FRIENDS.
Remember this famous advice coming from teachers and mothers when we were young? Well, it does mean something. On a trip you meet all kinds of people, some are nice and some are nasty. You didn’t grow up with them, so you don’t even know about their dark secrets. Some would like to play it safe, and some will try and indulge in all sorts of wrong ideas. You have to decide for yourself the kind of company you want to keep and the the type to travel partner you wish to have, as it will highly effect your overall experience in the end.
ALWAYS KNOW WHEN TO COME BACK.
The thing with solo travel is – its addictive. Its easy for travelers to get high on the idea of it, and they want to do it again and again, for longer periods of time. Do not forget – an experience is only worthwhile if it is short and fulfilling in way that you want to go back to it, but not indulge in it forever. As excess of everything is bad, so can be the extended deadlines of your trip, and therefore make sure you know exactly when to come back. Do not make it too short to miss out on things, and do not make it too long for not being able to relive it. Find the right duration, and even if you will absolutely hate to come back, just pack your bag and leave. Honestly, there is a little voice inside you which will automatically tell – ‘its time to leave’.
Live it to the fullest, while it lasts!